ESSENDON’S old nemesis Lance Franklin had the final and decisive say as Sydney continued their unbeaten start to the AFL season in eclipsing the Bombers at the SCG.
With Sydney clinging to a four-point lead late in the game, Franklin took a mark and converted the set shot to record his third major of the night, the 950th of his career and his 73rd against Essendon, the most he has kicked against any club.
Essendon fought to the end, Sydney defender Dane Rampe making.a desperate fingertip effort to prevent a goal, and Cale Hooker did boot a major, but time ran out for the visitors as they went down by three points.
It was the fifth time in their past seven contests the game had been settled by 10 points or less, Sydney winning 11.17 (83) to 12.8.(80).
Sydney has captivated the AFL community with their free-flowing style, scoring over 100 points in each of their first three wins, but on Thursday night they proved they can win ugly and come from behind.
The Bombers kicked six straight goals either side of quarter-time to lead by 25 points.
Jake Stringer kicked a couple of early goals and Darcy Parish was also prominent in the Bombers surge.
During that period, the Bombers’ increased intensity prevented Sydney from playing the swift incisive football which was a hallmark of their first three games.
Sydney rallied to kick the last five goals of the half to lead by five points at the long break.
It wasn’t until their final major of the half that they produced the dazzling end-to-end flow they have become renowned for.
Sam Reid’s second goal expanded Sydney’s lead to 11 points, but both sides kicked three majors in the term, which ended with Essendon ahead by a point.
Essendon’s Alec Waterman landed a set shot from just inside 50 metres for the first goal of the last quarter but Justin McInerney replied in kind to level the score.
Sydney then took control but missed multiple opportunities, logging four straight behinds, including a poster from Tom Papley, before Franklin kicked the clincher.
The Swans dominated clearances and had 31 more contested possessions, with Luke Parker collecting 32 touches.
Sydney suffered a blow in the second quarter when Isaac Heeney was forced off the ground with a broken hand.and replaced by James Bell, Sydney’s first medical substitute of the season.
Heeney had looked in good form before his setback, grabbing six marks.
(C) AAP 2021
SYDNEY 2.5 7.9 9.11 11.17 (83)
ESSENDON 4.1 7.4 10.6 12.8 (80)
Goals: Sydney: L Franklin 3 J McInerney 2 S Reid 2 C Mills L Parker O Florent T Papley. Essendon: C Hooker 3 J Stringer 3 A Waterman 2 D Parish D Smith H Jones N Cox.
Umpires: Jacob Mollison, Nicholas Foot, Craig Fleer.